England’s Euro 2016 clash with Wales on Thursday is sure to be one of the fiercest yet if comments made in the build up are anything to go by.
Prior to each side’s opening games on Saturday, Gareth Bale questioned England’s passion and revealed his excitement at facing the Three Lions.
Here’s what he said, per Sky Sports: “I had a chuckle when England came out, I’m not going to lie. It’s an amazing game to be involved in and it’s like any derby, you never want to lose to the enemy.
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“They big themselves up before they’ve done anything, so we’re going to go there and believe we can beat them.
“I think we’ve got a lot more passion and pride about us than them. We’ll definitely show that on the day. I don’t know what it is but, if you’re Welsh, we feel more pride and passion than anyone else.”
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Safe to say Bale’s comments haven’t gone down to well with Roy Hodgson, who has since blasted the Real Madrid star for being “disrespectful”.
Indeed, their scathing assessments means there’s even more at stake on Thursday.
According to the same source, Hodgson said in response: “Receiving disrespectful comments is part and parcel of being a footballer and a football coach.
“I don’t ever comment on other people. I’ve been in the game sufficiently long to know every opponent has got an opinion, the other day it was (Russia goalkeeper Igor) Akinfeev saying we were the worst seeded team and now it’s Gareth Bale.
“They can have those opinions but I don’t have any doubts personally about our patriotism or desire and that’s the important thing.
“If he believes that that’s the case, he’s welcome to that opinion.
“But we know who we are, we know what we are. We don’t have any doubts about ourselves in that respect.”
Tasty. Anything less than a win for either side on Thursday won’t be enough, especially so for England.
Wayne Rooney and co. were held to a draw by Russia on Saturday night after conceding a last-minute equaliser.
Eric Dier had given England the lead with a fantastic free-kick in the 73rd minute but they were ultimately denied all three points.
Defeat at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis would put the Three Lions’ chances of progressing into the last 16 at serious threat, placing huge importance on their final group game against Slovakia.